• Fresh Views

    Perspective over comparison

    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt

    The trees in Kentucky are bringing their showy fall foliage. Each does not think about competing with the tree beside it. They just do their thing and bring their color.

    Our last post focused on the impactful words that Tami keeps on a post-it note stuck to her computer monitor: Progress, not perfection. These words build on how the growth mindset draws attention to one’s own progress. Today we turn our attention to 3 more impactful words shared by a mentor over the years: Perspective over comparison.

    Accepting oneself can be hard! 

    In life it can be easy to default to comparing yourself to others. Just last week Tami heard these words from a patient, “I’m bad…I don’t eat the way I’m supposed to. I don’t keep my blood sugars as well controlled as my friend who also has diabetes.”  It’s so easy to get caught up in creating our own opinions of ourselves and how we measure up to others. We can play the comparison game all day long but how helpful is that really? Comparison can leave us feeling down. 

    Being realistic about personal strengths and challenges is often easier said than done. Striving to be honest with ourselves and accept who we are, our abilities, and acknowledge when we’ve reached our limits is the goal. Without acceptance it’s impossible to move forward. In a 2018 #DSMA Twitter Chat we asked participants about their strengths. One individual with diabetes replied:

    “I am strong when it comes to seeking support. When I am down, I am self-aware enough to address my hardship. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.”

    Another replied:

    “My strength is that I refuse to give up. I am tenacious and do not take no for an answer.”

    Acceptance is critical when living with a chronic condition like diabetes

    When encountering clients/patients facing this comparison scenario, diabetes care and education specialists (DCES) can step alongside as a think partner and give perspective to the circumstances. We can offer caring, support and encouragement.

    People need to feel safe when engaging with their care team to acknowledge what they can do, along with what is challenging for them. This past week in an educational symposium for people with diabetes that Tami spoke at, the participants voiced loud and clear the theme of feeling judgment from their healthcare providers. DCES have a unique opportunity to support those that live with diabetes as they learn to accept changes and new challenges in dealing with diabetes. And, practice acceptance, understanding that people react to challenges differently. It’s critical to accept the person in front of you as they are, without judgment.

    An individual typically can recognize and clearly identify things they are able to do or achieve and feel happy. We can then encourage focus on those strengths, do more of what is working, and leverage those strengths, skills and qualities to create new opportunities. 

    In the same Twitter Chat mentioned above, another participant shared:

    “I concentrate on the lifestyle. The day to day life of a person with diabetes. I work for overall health through exercise, and diet for BGL [blood glucose] results. The support I receive takes care of the rest. So, cure or not, let’s make it as good as we can and support the other.”

    Diabetes care and education specialists can learn a lot from simply asking people what strengths they have to help them live well with diabetes, keeping top of mind, it’s all about perspective over comparison.

    Here are 6 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on perspective, strengths, and self-acceptance:

    1. What would success look like for you (e.g. in life, in living with diabetes etc)?
    2. What strengths do you have and use to help you manage your diabetes every day? 
    3. How can you use your strengths to create opportunities for success?
    4. What is one thing you have come to accept in your life that took some time to process?
    5. How did you feel when you were finally able to accept that challenging situation?
    6. How could you use those experiences and feelings to move you forward to accept a new challenge now?

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter @AFreshPOVforYou

    Deb is employed by Dexcom, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

    Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky HealthCare Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

  • Fresh Views

    JOURNEY: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – ancient Chinese proverb

    Tami and Deb with our friend Karen Kemmis ready to head off to the Kentucky Derby a few years back

    This Saturday September 5 marks the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby! If you are not familiar with this premier thoroughbred horse racing event, it is held annually in Louisville, KY, typically on the first Saturday in May. Yet, due to the pandemic, this year’s Derby was moved to the first Saturday in September in hopes that this “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” would have an excited crowd cheering on the three-year-old thoroughbreds as they raced the one and a quarter miles to the finish line. The stands typically would be teeming with spectators from around the world oozing with fashion…ladies sporting beautiful dresses and big hats and men decked out in colorful suits…yet this year the stands will be empty. This race is often called “The Run for the Roses” because a blanket of roses is draped over the winning horse. It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. A horse must win all three races to win the Triple Crown.

    Our husbands sporting their sharp Derby attire

    Not only is this premier horse racing event near and dear to our hearts since we had the opportunity to experience it a few years back, it causes us to take pause and reflect on the JOURNEY to qualify for the “Run for the Roses”.

    Some horses are born with talent, and are simply stronger and faster than other horses in the race. They are considered the “favorites” to win their races. But yet, the “favorite” doesn’t always win every race. Sometimes the winner is a horse with lesser talent so to speak, but who has a trainer that’s able to help maximize the horse’s potential through customized training based on the horse’s particular strengths and weaknesses, and by leveraging factors such as weather and track conditions, to give the horse the desire and best chance to win.

    As is the path to the Kentucky Derby a JOURNEY, without a doubt living with diabetes is a JOURNEY too.

    Today’s word is JOURNEY

    This journey brings not only glucose ups and downs, but twists and curves based on life’s experiences and challenges. When working with clients facing diabetes challenges, it’s key to focus on where they are in their journey and the complex decisions and choices they make on a daily, hourly, and even minute-by-minute basis. 

    We’ve shared before our fondness of Taxonomy of the Burden of Treatment paper (Tran et al) which helps clarify in a visual way the complexity and work required to manage a complex chronic condition like diabetes. When thinking about where clients are on their journey with diabetes, consider all of the factors that are impacting their decisions, choices, opportunities, and challenges. We can be supportive by helping them focus on their strengths, successes, and resilience. Just identifying one thing that is working well for them or finding an area in their life where their hard work is paying off can be incredibly impactful. 

    How often are people with diabetes recognized for the work they do?

    During one presentation at the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists virtual annual meeting the current ADCES Diabetes Care and Education Specialist of the Year, Dr. Diana Isaacs, made a profound statement that resonates with a solution-focused approach: 

    In her practice’s shared medical appointments where participants wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), she starts off by thanking everyone for wearing the CGM for the week and recognizing the achievement in doing so. A thank you…it sounds simple, but is so powerful. How often are people with diabetes  recognized for the work they do? Diana focuses on what worked well for them during their week, and asks permission to discuss their challenges. During the session participants are able to focus on the journey of learning how they can make decisions and changes moving forward, based on their discoveries. No matter how small the changes may be, small steps add up.

    What an impactful way to make education meaningful and individualized, with the DCES stepping alongside as a “think partner” helping them take the next step on their journey. 

    As we shared in this blog around Derby time last year, when a client is faced with a scenario they’re trying to sort out, here are 3 key questions you can ask as their think parter:  

    1. What’s going well?
    2. How did you accomplish that?
    3. How can you do more of that? 

    Each week we invite readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. This week we encourage you to:

    1. Start each session with a client by acknowledging the hard work they are doing managing their diabetes, even if it’s as simple as a thank-you for attending the session.
    2. Discuss with clients the concept of living with diabetes as being  a journey where there is always opportunity to shift directions.
    3. Offer clients support on their journey by sharing resources on peer support groups, either in person or online. Learning how others are moving forward living with diabetes can be life changing. 

    Try out one or more of the strategies we’ve shared, and reach back to  let us know how you’re doing! We’d love to help you de-stress and focus on a positive mindset.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

    Deb is an employee of Dexcom but all comments are her own.

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